I’ve had to go through many moments when people didn’t believe that I was in charge of a project or a job because I was woman or because I was young, they always sought the ‘chief man
In honor of International Women’s Day, the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) is sharing stories about women in the arboriculture profession throughout the month of March to honor their contributions to the industry.
Juany Durand’s career in arboriculture began with a desire to improve working conditions, and having more and better information to promote tree care.
“When I started working in a municipality, almost 10 years ago, I was very interested in tree care in that district,” she said. “There was not much information on tree management in the city and few people dedicated themselves exclusively to this area.”
While participating in a Tree Workshop in Lima, Peru ISA Certified Arborists® from the United States and Mexico inspired Durand with their work.
“Seeing, listening, and learning from them about how trees are managed in other cities was really very productive,” she said. “The fact that people from other countries can share this type of experience was new and useful here and it served as a basis for replicating it in our city.”
After the workshop, Durand and her team began applying some of the techniques they learned to replace their old techniques that were ineffective and in some cases harmful.
“The process was not easy, especially because they had already been working in one way and it is difficult to change patterns,” she said. “I realized that it was important to train myself and train the staff I was working with at the time. Learning became a necessity and from that moment I began to seek and ask for advice from many professionals in the industry.”
Today Durand is the coordinator of green urban areas in the district of Miraflores (Lima-Peru). She is in charge of the management, maintenance and conservation of the public parks, gardens and the urban trees of the entire district. Her team manages more than one million square meters of green areas and approximately 27 thousand trees.
Durand is also the first Peruvian to become an ISA Certified Arborist®. She earned her credential in 2019 and had to travel to Colombia to take the exam because Peru, at the time, was not yet an associate organization to ISA.
“This opened many doors for me,” she said. “Meeting many people from different countries is incredible, and sharing all the information and experiences is priceless. Being an arborist has opened up the general panorama for me, traveling to other countries, meeting people who love trees, is incredible and everyone is always willing to share with you and help you.”
Durand said there have been other notable moments throughout her career. In June 2020 she was elected to the ISA Council of Representatives and in October 2020 she became president of the Asociación Peruana de Arboricultura y Forestería Urbana” (APA) where she will serve for a period of two years. Durand also climbed her first tree in 2019.
“It was amazing, it was the best feeling and that led me to want to improve and professionalize the tree work here,” Durand said. “One of my goals is to know how to do it in order to teach others and promote safety work on trees. The job of tree workers here is much undervalued and I think we need to help tree workers to improve their working conditions. As an association, APA, we promote that, and support them in their training and professional growth. We want women to be encouraged to do this job, now it is a job that is done mostly by men.”
Durand said, however, that her career has not been without its challenges.
“I’ve had to work in a hostile work-environment and still do my work with the same quality and efficiency,” she said. “I’ve had to go through many moments when people didn’t believe that I was in charge of a project or a job because I was woman or because I was young, they always sought the ‘chief man.’ I decided that it would not matter to me and I would do my job. I had to stand my ideas despite having a lot of people against it. I believed it was the right thing to do and I had good people supporting me, so that was enough.”
Durand is also part of the Mujeres Arboristas de Latinoamérica (MALA). MALA was founded at the end of 2019, it is led by women committed to the idea that more women should be in arboriculture.
“I like the idea of this group, where we are women from different countries of Latin America who work in arboriculture, we share experiences, information, and a lot of support,” she said. “I believe that a network of people with a vision in common makes us advance more in our objectives, because in the end the borders do not matter so much but to be a group united by an ideal.”
Despite the challenges Durand said she still encourages women to join the industry because it is a job that requires discipline, character and especially passion and women are perfectly capable of doing it.
“I would like to encourage more women to be part of our industry, arboriculture needs more women committed to tree care,” she said. “In this profession you won’t have a boring day, rather, every day you learn something new and you get yourself with more experience that you can share with many people not only from your country but around the world. Whatever area you work (field, office, etc.) do not be discouraged if things do not go well, it is part of our learning.”
Check out the other Women in Arboriculture profiles.